The theme of the week has been courage and vulnerability...and without sounding like one of Brene Brown’s PR team, it really does keep coming up over and over again with the individuals and groups that I coach. And so often this last week, the conversations have gone to where people feel they need to show up courageously in their lives and be able to ask for what they need; emotionally, socially, spiritually, mentally and physically. Being vulnerable as an eight on the Enneagram is extremely challenging for me at times, as this requires me having no control over what might or might not happen in any given situation and learning to be comfortable with that. And believe me that scares the crap out of me on a good day, never mind a day when I am feeling a little insecure about myself. And those days come even with all the tricks, tools and techniques I have at my disposal as a coach.
Of course, there are plenty of situations in any given day or week that require me to allow my vulnerability to be tapped into as a personal strength. Whether this is asking my partner for support or love, reaching out to a colleague on a project or letting down my guard with the clients that I work with in the addiction treatment centre. And when I do this, the most incredible things happen and I feel authentic and congruent within myself. It’s when I feel spiritually connected to myself and the world around me, as if hooked up to the universe by a powerful force of love and acceptance.
Then all of a sudden I can be disconnected from this sense of presence and belonging, trapped in the crazy of my thoughts! And try as I might, there are times when getting out of my head and into my body can be extremely difficult. Personal development, conscious living and awareness are wonderful when I am plugged into the world through my executive thought functions in my prefrontal cortex, but when something short circuits in the inner workings of my brain and I suddenly go “offline” because of an event that has triggered me, it’s not always easy to come back into my body and reconnect back into the universal energy. That’s when having the mindsight to see what is going on, and how I am not doing what I know works, can just be frustrating!
There is no magic to any of this. It’s about using those little tools and tricks that I’ve learned, and teach to others, consistently and patiently. I’ve never professed to be a master at any of this, just another soul navigating the roads, avenues and boulevards of life. I know that hitting the pause button between stimulus and response is incredibly effective – when I am able to find the sometimes elusive pause button. This doesn’t always happen! Of course there are times when I am able to catch myself and S.T.O.P. (Stop–Take Three Breaths–Observe–Proceed) which is one of Deepak Chopra’s little tricks to bring ourselves back into the present.
And I have learned to T.H.I.N.K. more often, before I fire off a series of reactive retorts in the heat of the moment. So I S.T.O.P. and ask myself, “Is it TRUE? Is it HELPFUL? Is it INSPIRING? Is it NECESSARY? Is it KIND?” before being thoughtless with my words. Often I don’t get past the true bit, and it’s a wonderful tool when I use it. But as I have mentioned I am perfectly imperfect when it comes to keeping it all real, and of course there are times when I say and do things in that cowgirl-style of mine, having to go back later and sweep the debris off the saloon floor after the verbal gunfight!
The real power though, is if I allow myself to remain vulnerable with myself and the people around me. I find it less likely that I am going to feel under threat from the people I interact with when I adopt this mindset. That if I am courageous in my daily life and speak with a gentle compassion to myself and others, I have the ability to stay in my authenticity. And the irony of it is that when I am being vulnerable and open, I feel incredibly strong. By exposing my softness I am actually more protected than if I put on masks, build walls and armour myself in preparation for how the world’s going to, maybe, fuck me over.
So, going back to my original thoughts; over the course of the week as this theme was discussed in the coaching groups that I facilitate, I realised that there are so many people letting down their fake personas of strength and infallibility. Watching vulnerability and courage finding their voice in men and women who have long been silenced by the guilt and shame of addiction is nothing less than an honour and a privilege. As mothers and fathers talk of breaking the cycle of substance abuse in their families and showing up for their children differently to their parents, I feel the genuine desire for change. When individuals allow their truth to find a space and explore their deepest core beliefs and values, I am humbled by the tenacity of the human spirit. Many times over the last week I have seen people share from places deep within them, bringing fears, insecurities and humility into the light, instantly diminishing their stranglehold on their hearts and souls.
And the more vulnerably I show up in this space, the more unspoken permission there is for real healing and growth. When I am authentic and congruent, speaking my truth, others are shown that there are no rights or wrongs when it comes to being ourselves. Rather that each and every person has the personal power to show up and be heard, seen and loved if they are ready to allow themselves to drop the shields we all carry and let their courage, authenticity and vulnerability guide them towards their true purpose in life, whatever that may be for them.